The enforcement of New York City’s Local Law 26, which mandates the retrofit installation of sprinkler systems of nonprofit organizations and churches, is resulting in noncompliance with quarterly fines being assessed until the facility is brought up to code.
The law does not pertain to every building, however, fire sprinklers save lives and property and can significantly reduce property insurance premiums. In order to mitigate insurance rate increases, install fire sprinklers and have them properly inspected and tested by Allstate Sprinkler Corp — NYC’s premier Master Fire sprinkler contractor.
For Non-Profits, Regulations Usually Depend on the Building Size
Local Law 26 is a NYC Building Department ordinance requiring buildings previously exempt to now install fire sprinkler systems. In general, this applies to commercial buildings over 100 feet in height and it was passed into law as part of a series of life safety reforms after the tragedy of 9/11.
Pre-existing laws, however, may require smaller buildings to have fire sprinklers installed as well. In all cases, every business, whether it be for-profit or not-for-profit, would strongly benefit by the installation of fire sprinklers.
One study in 2018 confirmed that fire sprinklers saved over $144 million in property damage in a single county alone. In addition, not a single life was lost to fire in a non-profit facility with a functioning, properly designed and inspected sprinkler system. No other action you can take is more effective in saving lives and property than having a properly maintained and active fire suppression system.
Fire sprinkler systems are designed primarily to contain the spread of a fire — not necessarily to extinguish the fire. Each and every second during a true fire situation is precious and can be the difference between life and death. Each sprinkler head is designed to automatically activate when it detects a specific temperature and fuses at such temperature thereby releasing water and suppressing the flames and heat below.
This prevents the spread and allows for the evacuation of your non-profit or church building. While heat, flames and smoke are suppressed, the fire department has time to arrive and perform their duty.
The National Fire Protection Association created NFPA 25 to standardize the inspection, testing and maintenance regimen of all water-based fire sprinkler systems. In New York City, however, you must be FDNY-certified to perform these inspections and Allstate Sprinkler can expedite this process.
Inspections and testing occur on the following schedule:
Each inspection is more thorough as the year progresses. Monthly testing consists of a visual inspection of most of the systems’ components. The quarterly test and inspection involves the monthly visual inspections as well as inspecting the sprinkler riser’s hydraulic placard, if relevant, as well as ensuring there is adequate clearance at the main sprinkler components.
The annual test for non-profit facilities requires different regiments to be performed in the 1st year and then again in the 5th year. Every yearly inspection will include all of the monthly and quarterly visual inspections, as well as a complete flow test and full fire pump test. The 5-year inspection includes an internal assessment to assess the potential obstruction of water flow caused by foreign materials or the build-up of sediment.
A weekly inspection should also be performed by in-house personnel to perform a simplified, visual inspection to ensure nothing looks out of place or sprinkler heads are not obstructed by any stock or portable racking/ shelving, etc.